Genocide trial for Guatemala ex-dictator Rios Montt suspended

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt attends a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice in Guatemala City, November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A retrial of former Guatemala dictator Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity was suspended again for the court to resolve outstanding legal petitions, a judge said on Monday.

Rios Montt’s opponents accuse him of a scorched earth policy in the bloodiest phase of the Central American country’s 36-year-long civil war that ended in 1996.

A hearing on Monday was held behind closed doors and Rios Montt did not attend because of “mental incapacity,” according to the court. A trial one year ago was also suspended when the defense sought the removal of one of the judges on the case.

Also on trial is Jose Rodriguez, the former military intelligence director, who is accused, along with Rios Montt, of overseeing the slaughter of 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population in the Quiche region of Guatemala in 1982 and 1983.

Rios Montt was found guilty for his role in the killings in May 2013.

His 80-year jail sentence was thrown out less than two weeks later, however, by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court on a legal technicality after persistent efforts by Rios Montt’s defense team to derail the trial with complex appeals.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; editing by Grant McCool